The Secret PS1 Feature That Saved My Childhood

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It’s the late 90s, the early jagged days of polygon gaming, and you’re playing a game on your PS1. You are recording your progress because you are a child and have to get up early for school, or you are an adult and have to go to work. You think everything is fine, but suddenly the worst happens: you will free up space on your memory card and you accidentally delete the wrong file. It’s a sinking feeling I know all too well, but luckily there was a feature on the console to fix this horrible error. You just had to be quick on the trigger (or, well, four of them).

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See, pressing all four trigger buttons on the PS1 controller twice at the same time would return your deleted file backup. It was a very interesting feature, especially for the time. While memory cards were the norm back then and games weren’t the monstrosities they are today, they were still high maintenance. Either that or you went out and piled memory cards like old VHS tapes; I had two of these during my days as a PlayStation 2 owner.

Although you can recover deleted PS2 files, the solution was not as easy as with its predecessor. You had to have access to a computer, as well as third-party software like Recoverit. It was a huge pain. One thing I will never understand about console makers, especially back then, is their need to cut out useful features that save consumers like us time and money. The PS1 feature really took a lot of the anxiety out of our fragile little save files.

Although I didn’t own a PS1, I used my cousin’s a lot and even saved files to his memory card. One morning I was there and woke up to continue reading Spyro the Dragon, but the memory card I was using was nearly full (they had two and one was kinda shared). I wanted to delete my Crash Bandicoot data because we beat the game the day before and accidentally deleted our save file for Crash 3 Warped instead!

I panicked, forcefully practicing my best impression of Shia LaBeouf, whispering “No no no no,” while everyone in the room slept. I then did what everyone does with a controller in their hand, mashing all the buttons at once. Suddenly the save file came back and everything was, well, saved! In the middle of my mash, I came across the precious L1, R1, L2, R2 combo, and all was well. I never told my cousin, of course, lest he forbid me to use his PS1 again.

This feature really should have made it into the PlayStation 2, and Sony should have done more to let people know about this game save trick. dial-up, AOL test discs, and a general lack of readily available information. Also, I wasn’t the smartest 10 year old and was only able to activate this feature in a panic, nor did I read any gaming magazines back then.

These days, we don’t have to worry about deleting the wrong files or even the wrong games, because technology has advanced and external hard drives have made tracking game data and the games themselves much easier. and less stressful. All we have to do now is save the files and that’s it. The PlayStation 2 is still the best-selling video game console of all time with over 157 million units sold worldwide. While it’s possible Sony wanted to make sure their memory cards were sold because there were a lot of games sold, to date I’ve never had a library as big as my PS2 library because it took up everything a dresser style drawer in my entertainment system.

But there are likely other reasons why Sony didn’t bring the feature to the PlayStation 2 – time constraints being chief among them. It was a very important feature, and for Sony not to include it feels like an oversight that we may never get to the bottom of it. Either way, I’m glad it exists, and who knows, chances are it helped advance the technology to where it is today. All I know is that the 10 year old me is very grateful for that.

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